This was first posted on Facebook on 3rd February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The most complicating factor in figuring out what might happen in Northern Ireland over the next few weeks or months, is that Boris Johnson is a chronic liar, and yet neither mainstream media nor his ministers nor his MPs seem able to say so.
We can note what Boris Johnson says. But we know, from past experience, that what he says doesn’t correspond to what he’ll actually do: and what Johnson wants to do, essentially, is anything that’ll make him popular.
There are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. We could go hard Brexit, or no deal – that’s catastrophic. We can accept the deal the EU is still prepared to offer us, soft Brexit, which may be only mildly disastrous but which won’t make anyone, Leaver or Remainer, happy: or the third direction, another EU referendum – which will inevitably stir up trouble, potentially very violent trouble, and there is no guarantee that a second referendum would arrive at the desired result; and time is running out.
The fourth, entirely constitutional option, is for the House of Commons to stop Brexit by a majority of MPs voting to revoke the UK’s invocation of Article 50 and remain in the EU.
I don’t believe the Labour Party administration are rigging the leadership election to keep Jeremy Corbyn from winning. I don’t think that’s what they’re trying to do, and I don’t think they’d succeed in doing it if they tried. I think Jeremy Corbyn’s likely to win: if he loses, it won’t be because of the Labour Party’s purge of voters.
We’ve seen in the US since Bush was awarded the victory in November 2000, that a determined group of people with the power to have hackable e-voting machines built and installed, the power to ensure legal investigations are only used against the opposition, the power to shut down voter registration for the opposition, and of course the power to “cleanse” electoral rolls of voters likely to choose your opponent, can deliver victories for the Republican Party: the outright vote-fixing may be mathematically detectable.
I don’t think that’s what’s happening in the Labour leadership election.
Only in England would the leader of a political party announce he plans a coup to overthrow the democratically-elected government, in the Daily Telegraph, two days in advance.
Just a month ago, Adam Ramsay warned on the OpenDemocracy site:
If they [the Tory press] can possibly get away with it, they will find any way they can to declare Cameron the winner, even if it’s going to be almost impossible for him to command a parliamentary majority. In doing so, they will seek to make it impossible for Miliband to govern. This circumstance would in effect be a coup by newspaper proprietors against the people of the country. Because our constitution is written not in statute, but headlines, this is perfectly possible.
It’s complicated by the fact that until a new government is formed, Cameron and the other Tory and LibDem Ministers remain in Downing Street as a caretaker government, even if they have lost their seats and aren’t MPs any longer. Just as Gordon Brown correctly remained in Downing Street as Prime Minister until Cameron and Clegg had finished their coalition deal, so must Cameron stay on as PM until the House of Commons decides how to form a democratically-elected government out of the results of the 7th May election.
Nicola Sturgeon is – as we know in Scotland – an experienced, able politician, with ten years experience as the leader of the Opposition, as the Deputy First Minister, and now as the First Minister, in Holyrood.
A Yougov panel of undecided voters failed to recognise Nicola Sturgeon at all when shown her photo in advance of the leaders’ debate on 2nd April: but after the leaders’ debate, Sturgeon was topping UK-wide polls, her results comparable to those for Miliband and Cameron.
Nicola Sturgeon spoke as older voters will remember Labour politicians once speaking – of an economy that should support the people, against people being ground up by austerity to “support the economy”, of concern for immigrants and asylum seekers as human beings. Ed Miliband and David Cameron both looked scripted: Miliband constantly turned to speak to “you at home”, not to the audience or to his six fellow debaters: Cameron seemed to have a checklist of things he’d been told to repeat when he was stuck for answer, and he was stuck for an answer a lot.
The population of the UK is about 63 million, and fewer than 5% of the population are Muslim. (In Scotland, 1.4%.) Muslims are slightly more likely to express pride in being British than non-Muslims; are more likely to want to live in diverse, mixed neighbourhoods: and much more likely to identify themselves with Britain. (From a recent study carried out by the University of Essex.)
Muslims are not a majority religion in the UK, and mosques are more likely to be firebombed than churches. The most powerful and dangerous country in the world, whose religious extremism has caused more deaths than any other nation’s, has Christian conservatism at the heart of power, not Islam. The right-wing domestic terrorists of the EDL and SDL march against Islam: the BNP occasionally takes up pickets outside KFCs that provide halal chicken: we see a BBC Question Time panel debate veiled Muslim nurses for 20 minutes without ever asking themselves or the audience “has it ever happened that a nurse wanted to wear hijab on a ward”? Right-wing men go on rants claiming it’s a big feminist deal how Muslim women dress. (It is.) An anti-Islamic pressure group masquerading as a “student rights” organisation is funded by a neocon thinktank. And heavyweights like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph run media campaigns trying to convince people that it’s a very big deal if a shop assistant who prefers not to deal with wine or pork, has her religious preferences met with flexibility by her employer. Right-wingers who wouldn’t support LGBT rights or feminism against any Christian institution get all worked up over the hazards of “Islamic extremism” to women and to gay people.
When you have a right-wing political movement trying to blame all the ills of the country on “immigration”, and presenting a persecuted minority as if they were a huge danger, what does this look like to you?
Because I know what it looks like to me.
Which member of the Privy Council is best qualified to be Chancellor of the Exchequer? It is not, obviously, George Osborne, who famously doesn’t even have O-grade maths and who is driving the UK into double-dip recession because he has no notion about economics beyond “tax cuts for the rich=GOOD”.
Oddly enough in a Tory Cabinet, it’s actually a comprehensive-school kid from Wales.
Maria Lewis went to Brynteg Comprehensive School/Ysgol Gyfun Brynteg in Bridgend and took a BSc in Economics at the LSE. (When she married Iain Miller in 1990 she took his surname and has stood for election as Maria Miller ever since.) She isn’t a crony of Cameron from the Bullingdon Club (they don’t let girls in), she didn’t go to Oxbridge, she wasn’t privately educated, and she didn’t marry into the web of privilege: she will never be one of the Secret Seven. I imagine as a member of the Conservative Party since she was 19 she’s got used to that kind of thing.
Maria Miller has been MP for Basingstoke since 2005. As she was born in 1964 she’ll be aware that to David Cameron (born 1966), she has a useful life only to 2018, even if the Tories scrape a win in 2015: Caroline Spelman was sacked in the reshuffle for being too old at 54.
Cast your mind back to the palmy early months of coalition government, back when Andy Coulson was Director of Communications for the government at 10 Downing Street, on £140,000 a year, and Rebekah and Dave could go hacking together without a care in the world.
In mid-June reports confirmed that News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdoch, was holding talks with BSkyB shareholders with a view to acquire the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB.
By October, a coalition of media organisations including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the the Guardian, the BBC, and Channel 4, were pushing for government intervention. Vince Cable, then Business Secretary, would have got a letter from this coalition making the case that a merger of News Corps, the UK’s largest newspaper group, and BSkyB, the UK’s biggest subscription television service “could have serious and far-reaching consequences for media plurality”.
Lyall Duff thought he’d made his Facebook profile private. The lesson everyone should take from the Telegraph’s “investigative journalism” – finding a few ranty sweary posts and quoting or partially quoting them – is that Facebook is never reliably private.
The SNP have suspended Lyall Duff, but it is too late to take his name off the ballot for Murdostoun ward in North Lanarkshire: the Telegraph waited to disclose Lyall Duff’s posts until after the deadline precisely so that the SNP’s possibilities for damage limitation would be minimal. This will benefit Scottish Labour; they won a majority on North Lanarkshire council in 2007, and half of the seats in the Murdostoun ward. The Telegraph ran another story this morning with an opening:
Labour questioned why the SNP was prepared to pass new legislation cracking down on sectarianism in football matches but has so far refused to expel Lyall Duff. They accused the First Minister of crying “crocodile tears” over the affair.
Why are the Telegraph runing a press campaign to help Scottish Labour win one more seat in a local authority ward in North Lanarkshire?
There are a set of moral, ethical, and medical issues around abortion.
[Also about use of Care Quality Commission staff for a politician’s personal prejudices. More of that in the update below.]
The Telegraph does not appear to be interested in any of them, in its latest US-style article about “abortion clinics”.
First and most importantly: Is the person who is having the abortion being coerced in any way? It would be immoral and inethical for a doctor to perform an abortion on anyone unless she wants to have her pregnancy terminated.